What follows is an interview with Alex Howes the day before the day before Liège-Bastogne-Liège (La Doyenne or “the Oldest”). MFS was seated at a table in an apartment in Gent, Alex Howes was lying in bed in a hotel room in Genk. We talked about the Ardennes, his Giro Prospects and Traveling.
THE SPRING CLASSICS
My notes going into the Ardennes were good:
- Look after Ryder and Dan.
- Be aggressive, move the race. Which means I get to attack and see what I’ve got, it’s always fun to make moves and get on TV.
But I’m sick and it’s effing up my Ardennes Mojo. I have a lingering cold or chest infection and the weather has been horrible, a lot of guys are having trouble. The two days leading up to Amstel Gold I thought I was getting better but the night before I didn’t sleep well and I started feeling sick all over again. That morning I didn’t feel good at all but during the race I felt good, my legs felt good, my form felt good, everything felt good; if I was healthy I would have been flying, which sucks to think about—to know.
Flèche was terrible, I pulled the pin, couldn’t get out of my own way.
Yesterday I had a bona fide nothing day. On nothing days I like to chill out, eat food, maybe get a coffee; I’m trying to stay away from coffee though—I’m trying to get my health in check. I’ve been talking to the doctors about weird dietary things: no bread, no sugar, trying to get the yeast out of my body, trying to deal with the Belgian mold situation.
Today I woke up, ate breakfast, got on the bus, drove to I don’t remember where for a recon (wherever the last 80k of Liège is), rode, got back on the bus, drove an hour and half back home, had a little lunch, took a nap, had a massage, did some chiro.
After Flèche my notes have changed. I’m taking more of a supportive role now.
Monday [after L-B-L] will be a total wash. I’ll be lucky to get a bowl of cereal down my throat and log onto Netflix with doctors coming in, chiros coming in, everybody checking in, tap-tapping my head, staff saying, “Hey, I couldn’t help but notice you rode like a bucket of assholes yesterday.”
I’m on the long team. Once we get to Italy we’ll have to draw straws and/or arm wrestle to see who goes home—that and some actual racing and team time trial stuff. The big issue is the team time trial, we need a balance of climbers who can help Ryder in the hills and dudes who can throw down in the Team Time Trial. I suck at individual Time Trials but in Team Trials I’ve always come good, like in Utah last year, we had the dream team: Danielson, Zabriskie, etc., it was good. If I get selected to race the Giro, I’ll probably go to Utah and Colorado after that.
You don’t miss home if you neglect it. If you’re not living at home mentally, then you’re fine. But as soon as you start getting pictures of your dog, and you hear about all the snow, then you start missing home and you start thinking, “I wish was there, and you start thinking about your favorite coffee shop and talking to girls in English.”
I spend so much time in stretchy clothes. Like tomorrow, I’ll be in stretchy, relaxed clothes on the bus for the 2.5 hour round-trip commute to Liege—presentation is still kind of a novelty to me, that anybody wants my autograph is weird, standing on stage in kit and waving at people is weird—and I’ll be in kit (again, stretchy) for the 38 seconds I’m on stage during presentation, then when I’m training/riding/racing I’m in kit too, I’m always in stretchy clothes. I was in jeans for an hour the other day. I went to the store to buy chili sauce because in Belgium they actually have spicy shit, in Spain they don’t. Basically I spend a lot of time dressed like a depressed, recently laid-off gamer.
A lot of the people I’ve surrounded myself with don’t bother to give me advice they know I won’t take.